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‘No steps to evict windmill firms from tribal land’

Though it has been four years since the High Power Committee headed by the Chief Secretary found that 85.21 acres of tribal land was encroached upon at Attappady and sold to windmill companies, action has not been initiated either against the officials who had helped in fabricating the documents or those companies that are still in possession of the land. In fact, power from these units is flowing to the grid of the Kerala State Electricity Board at Attappady.

The 85.21 acres of land formed part of the 374.48 acres that Sarjan Realities Limited, a subsidiary of Suzlon, had acquired in the Attappady areas where Suzlon Energy had installed 31 windmills, all in the name of green energy production. The windmills were sold to some prominent film personalities and companies.

The report of the Chief Secretary that had come out in July 2010 was used by the United Democratic Front (UDF) against the Left Democratic Front (LDF) which was then in power in the State. The UDF raised the matter in the Assembly and replying to the debate, the then Electricity Minister A.K. Balan admitted that windmill companies had encroached upon tribal and forest land in the Kottathara, Sholayur and Agali villages of Attappady.

The Minister had stated in the Assembly that the report of the Integrated Tribal Development (ITDP) Project Officer of Attappady revealed that 100 acres of tribal land and 50 acres of forest land was encroached upon by the windmill companies. The then District Collector K.V. Mohankumar also sent a report to the government stating that there were widespread encroachment. He suggested a comprehensive inquiry.

Agitations staged

Most of the top leaders of the UDF reached Nallasinha in Attappady in July 2010 to lead an agitation by the tribal people demanding that the encroached land be returned to them. The UDF leaders demanded action against the officials and the windmill companies for usurping tribal land. They declared at Nallasinha that the two wind towers standing on the encroached tribal land should be acquired by the State government and returned to its original owners, the tribal people of the area. They even led a delegation of tribal people to Delhi and met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi seeking their support for the agitation.

It had been nearly three years since the UDF came to power, but they seemed to have forgotten about the tribal-land issue in Attappady, said M. Sukumaran, convener, Attappady Samrakshana Samithy.

He said that in survey no.1,275 of Kottathara village the extent of land was 215 acres (50 acres of forest land and 150 acres of tribal land). ‘‘But the entire 150 acres of tribal land is sold and encroached upon using fabricated documents by the land mafia. In total 25 fabricated documents were made with the connivance of the officials of Revenue, Registration and Forest Departments.”

Back in service

He said that though the government had suspended four government officials and three officials of the Attappady Hill Area Development Society in connection with this case all of them had returned to service now.

The government had taken no steps to evict the windmill companies from the tribal land, Mr. Sukumaran said.